Carroll shows his worth, but offense quiet
Right-hander follows up stellar Majors debut with six strong innings
CLEVELAND -- Justin Masterson, Version 2013, returned Saturday night to Progressive Field during the Indians' 2-0 victory over the White Sox.
For one night in this encouraging start to the 2014 season, the '13 White Sox also made an appearance. It only figures that a rough game for Robin Ventura's crew would take place in Cleveland, where the White Sox have now lost eight in a row.
This fourth straight loss overall for the White Sox featured two errors that contributed to two unearned runs scored off of Scott Carroll (1-1) and an absence of clutch hitting that translated into 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position. The White Sox are 2-for-20 with RISP over the first two games of this three-game set.
"When we had chances, which was not many, we didn't come through," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said.
"It just happened to be that Masterson was better today than I was," Carroll said.
Masterson (1-1) allowed three earned runs over 32 2/3 innings when facing the White Sox last year, and shut them out over 7 1/3 innings Saturday. But Masterson probably received a little help from the disabled list in this victory.
On April 12, Masterson yielded five runs on seven hits in a no-decision covering 4 2/3 innings vs. Chicago. The White Sox had seven starters who hit from the left side or were switch-hitters in that lineup, with left-handed hitters batting more than 100 points higher against Masterson in '14.
Look at Saturday's lineup card and there was no Adam Eaton or Conor Gillaspie, both of whom are on the disabled list. Switch-hitting Leury Garcia was part of the temporarily short White Sox bench, which also consisted of backup catcher Adrian Nieto and Paul Konerko, as the team went with 13 pitchers for the night.
"You can't do it right now. We are missing a few of them," said Ventura of loading his lineups with lefties against Masterson. "He's tough on righties."
The White Sox finished with four hits and six strikeouts against Masterson, who won for the first time since Aug. 21, 2013. Carroll pitched well enough to earn his second straight win, but didn't get the same result as he did last Sunday during his Major League debut.
Carroll appeared to pitch out of trouble in the second, after allowing Lonnie Chisenhall to reach third on a double and a long flyout, but stranded him there when Jason Giambi's infield popup produced the second out. David Murphy followed with a second straight infield pop, but on a night with wind gusts coming at 17 mph from left to right, Marcus Semien couldn't track the ball, and it tipped off of his glove for a run-scoring error.
Cleveland scored again in the fifth on Jose Ramirez's bunt single, Tyler Flowers' throwing error on the play, Mike Aviles' sacrifice bunt and Nick Swisher's sacrifice fly. Carroll finished without a strikeout and just one walk amidst his 103 pitches, and has allowed one earned run in 13 1/3 innings this season.
"They're trying to get outs, and I would never hold that against them," said Carroll of the defensive miscues. "It's just part of the game, and unfortunately it didn't go our way."
"For a young kid with not a lot of experience in the Major Leagues, he just came out and competed," said Cleveland manager Terry Francona of Carroll. "He threw a lot of his pitches for strikes."
A two-base throwing error from Chisenhall, Jordan Danks' walk and a hit-by-pitch of Flowers loaded the bases in the fifth with one out for the White Sox against Masterson. Semien followed with a line drive that was caught by Swisher and turned into an inning-ending double play when he stepped on first.
Beckham's two-out double put the tying runs in scoring position in the eighth for Jose Abreu, but Cody Allen struck out Abreu on three knuckle curves. Allen expanded the zone outside a little bit more with each of the last two pitches.
One moment of levity came in the sixth, when Chisenhall hit a ground ball to Abreu. The first baseman went to get the ball out of his glove to flip to Carroll covering, but the ball was stuck in the webbing. So Abreu flipped the entire glove to Carroll, who caught it on the run for the out.
"It's a lot easier to catch a big glove than it is a little ball, so I just tried to hold onto it as long as possible and was able to get the out," a smiling Carroll said. "That was a good job by him to be smart enough to toss his glove, because sometimes people would try and fumble with [it] and get the ball out."
Career start No. 2 was a validation moment for Carroll, who needed to prove his worth again in his mind, not knowing how long he would be up in the Majors. A few more starts such as his first two could extend this stint for quite some time.
Meanwhile, the White Sox need to stay close and survive the injury storm until their key players start to get healthy.
"You can't quit. It's not always going to go good," Beckham said. "You're not always going to be as healthy as you want to be, but the guys out there, we've got to find a way to get some wins until those guys get back."
"You'll take your lumps every once in a while," Ventura said. "When you get going, you'll get some wins."